Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Some people I just can't understand... Bradley Manning, and the people who think he's a hero.
Bradley Manning, for those of you non-news junkies out there, is a U.S. Army private who stole a billion top-secret classified documents and gave them to Julian Assange of Wikileaks notoriety. The documents contained sensitive State department memos, negotiations, confidential conversations with our allies, etc. There's a good chance people all over the world could be imprisoned or killed as a result of Manning's actions. There's an absolute certainty that other governments will be less likely to trust our own. Imagine that some jerk stole all your personal information and posted them all online, so the world could see your credit card debt, your Christmas list, and your personal correspondence. That's pretty much what Bradley Manning did to the United States of America. 
And that, according to some people, makes him a hero. Just read the comments here. Here's some samples, if you got the stomach for it: 
  • Good luck Bradley, the free world is thinking of you 
...yes. And weeping. The unfree world, on the other hand, is laughing.
  •  It is a shame how the US government is allowing a hero who helped support his fellow troops, by bringing info to light in order to aid in the cessation of continued military aggression abroad. 
...Ever notice how the military aggression of North Korea or Iran never seem to bother these people?
  • the real criminals involved are getting away with much worse crimes while those brave souls sharing the truth end up rotting in jail like this.
...Oh yes, he's the true brave soul, rotting in jail. I wonder if these people give a hoot about actual normal soldiers in combat. Charging a machine gun nest...protecting civilians from terrorists...pfft! That's nothing compared to giving classified documents to a Swedish blogger. Or how about those brave souls rotting in jail in Cuba, North Korea, China, Burma, Vietnam and a dozen other totalitarian countries? Have the same sympathy for them?
  • My heart goes out to this poor young man. I fear part of what they are doing is using this treatment to break him down and get him to testify against Julian Assange. Lord knows what they'll do after they're finished with him.
...Hmm. I don't know. A hundred years ago he would have been shot for treason. More likely he'll spend the rest of his life in Leavenworth - and good riddance.
  • Shame on the USA. Shame, shame, shame. 
...Yes. Shame. How dare we punish traitors.

And my personal favorite:
  • Bradley Manning is the role model I want my son to follow.
Makes you feel sorry for her son, doesn't it? Imagine the conversation:
"What do you want to be when you grow up, Lil'Fidel?
"I want to be a soldier!"
"No, no, Fidel! That would be serving the imperial war machine! Unless you join solely to steal classified documents and betray your country! Like Benedict Arnold! And Daniel Ellsberg! And Bradley Manning!"
"But mommy...I thought those were bad guys!"
"No, no! They're heroes! Unlike all the other unthinking drones in the Armed Forces with their puerile ideas of honor and duty! These guys marched to a different drummer?"
"But mommy...didn't Benedict Arnold betray his fellow soldiers for money? Didn't Daniel Ellsberg's actions help the North Vietnamese Communists, and set of a chain of events which ended with the enslavement and exile of thousands of Vietnamese, and the massacre of millions of Cambodians?"
"Shut up and eat your granola."

Or let's take another approach - what if all these maroons who laud Manning as a Wagnerian Superman had their own personal information exposed to the world? Hmm. Poetic justice.

What's really sad, of course, is that this isn't a conservative-vs.-liberal issue - or at least it shouldn't be. It's a right-wrong issue. Bradley Manning swore an oath, and broke it. He's a liar. But apparently that means nothing to these people. They hate the U.S. so deeply that all other moral considerations fly out the window.

Meh. Enough. This stuff makes my head hurt. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


It may be a few days late, but I can't let "wintertime" season go by without showing this little Glenn Beck gem: 
Come on, you gotta love it a video that has a snowman singing "Screw you, ACLU..." 
That triggers a thought - would it really be so bad if the ACLU never existed? Has it done any good in the world? I don't think so - but then I actually like the boy scouts. 

Ya learn something new every day

For example - did you know that Charlotte's Web was originally written as a critique of the United Nations
I knew there was a reason I liked this book :) 

On blog stats, Dostoevsky, Mark Shea (again, sigh) and my brand new novel

It's a sad fact that just when I was really serious about being a good, consistent blogger, another huge responsibility came into my life - namely, writing a novel for Catholic teenagers. Now that that is done, I find myself in an unusual quandary. I have free time. For the first time in twelve months, I have free time. I can blog again - but about what? And who will be listening? Ah, well, such is life.
In musing on this problem, I took a look at my blog stats and found some surprises. For example, I had 25 page views from...Russia? And 15 from...the Netherlands? Wondering why. Maybe the Russkies came for this post, but I can't imagine what I wrote that drew the Danes....
Speaking of Russians - I just finished reading the Brothers Karamazov for the third time. What a magnificent novel. Long, though. May I make a suggestion if you've tried reading it and failed? Try listening to it instead. You can get an audio version for free from here, read by volunteers (if you got an iPhone, download the free audiobooks app. One insight I've had about Dostoevsky is that the power of his novels comes from those long, rambling conversations - and when you actually hear the conversations, not read them, their power increases tenfold. I was brought to tears several times.
But back to the stats - interestingly enough, I found that some people came to my blog by searching for keywords "mark shea is vicious" and "mark shea is a bully". Obviously they got to my posts here and here - and even more interestingly, this post seems to be my all time greatest hit - bigger even than my screed against the ghostly evil glop. Now, I find this kinda troubling. I never intended my blog to become some kind of "I hate Mark Shea central". Although I do hate Mark Shea. No, I don't. You know, I recently met Mark Shea, briefly, and it was an exceedingly awkward experience. I mean, what do you say to a guy that you've blasted on the internet? It's just...awkward.
Anyway, I intend to post more frequently now. You've been warned. It's enjoyable to write casually again. Writing a novel is no fun at all - speaking of which, this novel is awesome. Seriously, you should read it once it comes out - and to prepare, you should buy and read books I and II as soon as you can. I'm actually doing you a favor here. It's not like these are weighty, ponderous tomes - they're fun, light reads with a compelling story. They're funny and interesting - a pleasure to read. Come on, dude. Take the plunge and buy them! Book III, on the other hand, is a little less light - because (semi-spoiler alert) some darkness comes in at the end of Book II. Book III deals with grief and loss, and doubt. It deals with temptation, and growing up, and how friendships can blossom or wither. It also deals with murder, mayhem, and (oddly enough) Catholics vs. Protestants. In other words, it's friggin' awesome. Can't wait for the day when I can tell you the release date (or the title, which will NOT be "Protestant for the Summer.")
See you soon.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Reflections on "Scrooge" and "Grinch"

Merry Christmas everyone! If you've noticed the length of this post, you may have guessed what has happened...I'm done my book! That's right! John Paul 2 High Book 3 is finally finished! 
Ah....I'm still reveling in this fact, rolling around in it like a...well, the only metaphor I can think of isn't appropriate either to a family blog or to the festive season, but hopefully you catch my drift. And in celebration of this happy event, I am sitting here at Starbucks. I waltzed right in here, wished the cashier a Merry Christmas, and asked for a cup of tea. What kind? she asked. The most Christmassy kind you have, I answered jauntily.. And she gave me...Tazo Joy. It's not bad. It's kinda Christmassy. It would have been more Christmassy if Starbucks had a liquor license, but whatever. 
So...what's this Christmas Eve post about? About two stories that, for good or for ill, have come to encapsulate the Christmas Season: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. (Useful link note: you can read the first online here; the second, of course, is still copyrighted.) 
These two stories share many similarities. Both are not overtly religious. This, paradoxically, adds to their power. The salvation story sneaks up on you, like a thief in the night, like Marley's Ghost or like that stubborn Christmas star that, despite old Greeny's efforts, "came! Somehow or other, it came just the same!" 
Both stories have the same theme - of a damned soul that is saved through mercy and grace. Both Scrooge and the Grinch are unabashedly evil at the start of the story - both are restored to childlike innocence by the end. Scrooge transforms from "a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner" to to "as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world." The Grinch transforms from a thing that doesn't have his head screwed on just right, with shoes too tight, and with a heart two sizes too small, to the bringer of Christmas, "blowing pooh-pooh on his trumpet" and carving the "roast beast". 
Even when the two stories differ, they differ in remarkably parallel ways. Think about it. Scrooge is evil in a passive way - Grinchy is evil in an active way. Scrooge is sunk into himself, "secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster," caring for no one and cared for by no one except his saintlike nephew. The Grinch, on the other hand, isn't content with not keeping Christmas himself - he goes out of his way to ruin it for everyone else. 
Their salvation, conversely, is precisely the opposite - Scrooge is saved by the active invasion of the four spirits (Marley, Past, Present and Future) who, in rude and hilarious fashion blast into his cramped little world and pry open his heart. The Grinch, on the other hand, is the invader - and is saved by beholding the unbroken joy and love of the Who's. He can't steal Christmas from them - and that makes him realize that Christmas is something more than annoying "noise" and "singing" - but something "a little bit more." Suess doesn't spell out exactly what Christmas is. But he doesn't need to. We all know. 
Saved Scrooge becomes an active participant of Christmas - Saved Grinch becomes an active recipient.  Both hearts are opened, but in precisely opposite ways. 
But I'm getting off the subject - or rather, I'm straying from my original idea. What struck me first about these two grumpy old codgers were their names. As I can attest, having just finished my second novel, coming up with names - really memorable names - is one of the trickiest things in the world. A really good name is hard to find and nearly impossible to generate by grunt work - and grunt work is 99% of writing. In other words, you can't just come up with a name - at least I can't. It has to come to you. It's pure inspiration. 
Well, Dickens and Seuss were both touched with inspiration when they got the names scrooge and grinch. Think about it. Both words tell a story just by the spelling and prununciation. What better name for a coldhearted old jerk than scrooge? What better monikor for a green-furred old grump who burgles tinsel, toys and groceries than grinch? 
Both words are easy to say, but unpleasant to hear - a fitting characteristic for the vices they represent. Scrooginess and Grinchiness are horribly easy to fall into - their hellish spirit can sneak up on you - either by misguided political correctness ("happy holidays", anyone) or by a misguided prudence ("Christmas is too commercialized!" is too close to the "Are there no prisons" spirit for my taste.) We must fight against them, every year. 
One final note before I sign off to enjoy my Christmas Eve - how many people out there have actually read "A Christmas Carol?" Too few, I'll warrant. You should. It's a delight. You can read it online, of course, but if you, like me, have too little time for such things, I would highly recomend that you purchase it in audiobook form. There's an excellent rendering of the old tale available on iTunes, read by none other than Jim Dale (the same guy who does the Harry Potter audiobooks). Costs $14.95 and worth every penny. Download it and listen while you're wrapping presents, doing last-minute shopping, or cooking dinner. 

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night! God bless us, every one! Enjoy your roast beast! 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ever wonder why Eagles fans are so bitter?

From a Philadelphia Barnes and Noble, in 2010: 

Look closely. 1960. 

2010 minuse 1960 = 50. 
Fifty freakin' years. 
They hadn't even invented the friggin' Super Bowl back then. 

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Stalin, a YouTube Debate, & Star Wars metaphors (come on, you gotta read it now)

No, this blog is not defunct. Yes, I'm still working on my book - every day, every hour. In fact, I feel guilty that I'm not working on it now. However, I also feel guilt that I'm not putting something up. So here you go: A few months ago, I ran into this video: 

This illustrates a well-known story about Stalin - that the atmosphere of fear and paranoia he generated was such that when he was applauded, people kept applauding forever. Why? Because no one wanted to be the the first person to stop.

Anyway... I read the comments to this video on YouTube and was amazed by how many people were saying "this is fake" and even "Stalin wasn't that bad", etc. I couldn't let that stand and started commenting back. This led to some interesting debates that touch on a subject that I've wanted to blog about for a long time: the fact that most people don't think about how evil communism truly was. True, we may know intellectually that communism was evil, but do we really grasp it?
I wish that when people see a red star, they would have the same gut reaction as if they saw a swastika. I wish that college students who wore Che students would be threatened with expulsion - as they would be if they wore a Hitler t-shirt. I wish that a stock movie villain would be a character wearing green baggy clothes and ranting about the evil capitalists - just like a character with a shaved head ranting about the evil Jews.

We need to win this battle - we need to point out, at every opportunity, that Communism= Nazism. We need to banish Communism to the fringe, just as we did Nazism. could come back.

But I'm getting off the subject. The video is interesting, but the comments are even more interesting, thanks to yours truly. Here's the link to the comments page, but WARNING! There is profanity. Some of it by me. I don't apologize - some ideas can only be accurately described by four-letter words. But children should not view the page.
My comments are under the name "jmdomaniii". Check out the debate between me and "anthonyhammill" - it's very interesting, starting with communism and then delving into ethics and whether they're relative or not. You can guess which side I'm on. Finally there's some amusing asides where I tweak some particularly arrogant and ignorant commies (but they deserve it, trust me).

Okay, that's it. Now descending back into the cave with my book. It's coming along swimmingly, by the way - and BUY BOOKS I and II! Both are good! In fact, Book II is BETTER than Book I (I'm talking to YOU, Irish!) - it's The Empire Strikes Back to my A New Hope. Hopefully Book III will be Return of the Jedi, not The Phantom Menace. And if you understood the previous two sentences, you get the World's Biggest Nerd prize. 

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Baby No-Neck!

Happy Father's Day y'all. Coming out of my book-imposed exile to post this charming picture of my son:

Pretty scary, ain't it? Don't worry, the little guy is fine; this is just something he does sometimes when he falls asleep in the car. Or used to do, I should say; this picture is a month old. He doesn't do it anymore:

Now, when I saw Dominic doing this, what do you think my first inclination was? To call the doctor? To examine his car seat? Nah. I was inspired to write a silly song:

(to the tune of "Mr. Sandman")
Baby No-neck!
Sleeping so strange!
It may feel good, but it looks quite deranged...
Your head is one way, your body's another
Baby No-Neck you're gonna scare your mother
Baby No-Neck!
Sleeping so weird!
Having no neck is some-thing to be feared
How did things get into this state?
Baby No-Neck, keep your head straight!

Thank you, thank you. Hey, cut me some slack (no pun intended). You got to find the funny things in life.

Did I mention that my wife is double-jointed? That might have something to do with this...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Moving today!!

A funny thing happened today - I accidentally composed a poem by saying something whilst cleaning up my old apartment. (yes, whilst - a word that I feel is wrongfully obsolete.)

This is something that Tom Bombodil did all the time. Everything he says in the Lord of the Rings is in meter.

Spontaneus couplet (spoken whilst moving)

An apple peeler part!
Left on the floor!
I should take it to the new place
(just to make sure)

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Darn it darn it darn it!

...I want to blog. I want to tweet. I really do. It's killing me here - killing me! 
There's so much going on in my life and in the world at large that I could pontificate about - the joys, perils and hilarities of having a baby in the thoughts on the ill-thought-out Arizona immigration law, and the equally ill-thought-out response of the U.S. Bishops to it (particularly Cardinal Mahoney)....some thoughts on technology, the iPad, Windows 7....some thoughts on the upcoming changes in the mass (how many of you know I used to be director of Liturgy for a parish?)...and, of course, the "health care" bill debacle. 

But I can't. I got a book to write. John Paul 2 High Book 2. It's almost done - I can feel it. It's also a lot of work. Writing a book is very time-consuming and I have less time than ever. So I got to keep plugging on. 

Incidentally - if you haven't read Book I and Book II -- read them! They're very, very good. Seriously. I wrote Book I and two other guys wrote Book II. And in case you're thinking Book II isn't as good as Book I - it's better. It's truly the Empire Strikes Back to my Star Wars. So read them! Puh-leeeeze. 
Buy Book I here and Book II here.  We're talking 10 bucks. You can afford it. You can read 1st chapters of each at the official website

I feel badly about leaving you all with nothing more than my incoherent whinings, so here's a poem. I wrote it back in college and it was published once in some obscure poetry journal. Hope you enjoy: 

On Her Feet

Perhaps it would be indiscreet to talk
about her feet. Don't laugh! It's ludicrous,
I know. So crass to dignify her walk;
ridiculous! But to be serious,
perhaps this farce would speak more than my words
For I could write for pages on the curve
of ankles and swelling calves, the toes uncurled
half-budding, quiet, groping on the floor,
embracing. When she wears a pair of jeans,
they peep like kitten's heads out of the blue
encaged in sandals, white in brown on green
The grass blades filter off an emerald hue,
which tints her skin and springs across her knees
And sets at play a surge of vibrancies.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Baby Boy!

Behold! Dominic David Doman, born 11:55 pm on April 21st! 

Here's me, the wife and the kid, together for the first time. Katie went all natural for the labor - not that she had much of a choice - Dominic came only an hour after we got to the hospital...

...and here's me, looking at my boy for the first time. There's nothing I can say to describe it...

...well, that's it for now. I'm sure you all want a full account of how this went down, but remember I still got a book to finish (see previous post)  - so you'll just have to wait. In the meantime, say a prayer for our new family! 

P.S. Many thanks to my sister Jessy, who was there and who took these pics. 

Sunday, April 18, 2010

An apologia and an apology

"Apologia" is defined by as "an apology, as in defense or justification of a belief, idea, etc." Of course, this term is also related to the modern word "apology" - meaning, "explanation why I've been a doosh." 

Why am I telling you this? Because the purpose of this post is twofold:
1) to say I'm sorry - for not posting more. 
2) to explain why I'm not posting more. 

When you hear the explanation, you'll also know why I haven't written anyone, including friends and family, haven't spoken to anyone, and generally have been incognito for the last couple weeks. 

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Film Critics should stick to film....

There's a blog I've been meaning to plug for a while: It's written by a guy called Stephen Greydanus, and it's full of the most insightful film reviews you'll ever see on the internet. This guy runs rings around Roger Ebert, trust me. 

Sadly, Mr. Greydanus chose to get off the subject of films and onto the subject of interrogation of terrorists. And even more sadly, he seems to be an avid reader of Mark Shea. (for more info on Shea and what I think of him, see here.)

Mr. Greydanus posted this and I replied with this (see below). Read it and you decide who's right. Anyway, he's still an absolutely awesome film critic.

Mr. Greydanus,
I have little to say regarding the subject of torture here. I'm not an expert on it. Neither are you, and neither (obviously) is Mark Shea.
I would rather talk about how Catholics conduct themselves on the subject of torture. Or, if you prefer, on the subject on the interrogation and detention of fanatical terrorists. I personally think this is a more accurate description of the subject, but it doesn't really matter to me.

First of all, I think this issue is not simple in terms of morality. I think it's an issue on which (unlike, say, abortion) reasonable people can disagree. I think this because reasonable people have disagreed on it - reasonable Catholics. 
In a complicated subject like this, I would hope that the level of discussion would last for two or three minutes without devolving into vicious insults on both sides, but, sadly, that is what always happens. And I think this is primarily the fault of bloggers like Mark Shea. 
I think this because (a) Mark Shea will call you a hypocrite, a war criminal and an evil person if you cross him and (b) Mark Shea, by his own admission, hasn't really given much thought on what the moral thing is to do when you have a terrorist in your possession who may have information on upcoming terrorist thoughts. In my opinion, the polemical, slanderous and cruel style that Mark Shea uses is both immoral and stupid, and I wouldn't trust a word he says on the subject. He makes no effort to understand the thoughts or the views of those he disagrees with - he simply insults them. He gets away with this because he's a good writer with a knack for witty phrases like "Conservative Catholic (TM)" and "the rubber hose right" (chortle!) but that doesn't change the fact that he's insulting and demeaning people. This is a sin, by the way. 

In your post above, you objected to the "torture opponents" being caricatured as "Meanwhile, torture opponents are painted as terrorist-hugging wackos." I disagree with your word "torture opponents" because it implies that those of use who disagree with you are torture proponents - but in any case, I think this is a bit whiny after listening to the venom spewed by Mark Shea against the late Robert Novak, George Weigal, Dennis Prager and innumerable other human beings whom I respect. 
One final word - it's not very convincing when all your posts above are from or from the inherently unreliable Mark Shea. In a reply above you linked to the "CIA-sanctioned waterboarding of terrorists." I clicked on it, expecting to see a PDF or something from a government file. No. It's another article that doesn't quote anything directly. Everything is through the filter of biased sources. Not really convincing. 
Thanks for all your great reviews over the years, and I sincerely hope you stick with films in the future (no sarcasm intended - I don't enjoy talking about politics either).

Monday, April 05, 2010

Pillow Talk

SHE: (after I made a particularly stupid joke): "Sleep with one eye open. You may be one testicle short in the morning."

ME: "....and that's how you can double the amount of virtual memory that the CPU uses! Isn't that-hey! You're not even listening! Don't you care about this?"
SHE: "I care because you care."
ME: "I don't even know what that means!"
SHE: "It means I don't care." 

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Palm Sunday Sonnet.

Happy Palm Sunday, everyone. Palm Sunday is one of the most jarring and provocative feasts of the Church, isn't it? Anyone who went to Mass today knows what I mean. Palm Sunday Mass starts with a procession with palms (hence the name) which evokes memories of the triumphal entrance of Christ into Jerusalem. It's a happy, joyous entrance. It's fun. 
But then...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A few short announcements...

Howdy, you all. (that's the uncontracted version of y'all). I have a few short announcements: 
1) thank you all for your support. It really does mean a lot. I've added a couple things to my blog lately that make it easier to follow it - the email subscription box on the side works now, for example. 
2) My next post will not be a funny one - but hopefully it should be interesting. 
3) If you like what you're reading, don't be afraid to comment! 

Thursday, March 18, 2010

I may be inviting a lightning strike, but...

...I have to recommend this book:

Check here for some samples! And no, it's not at all blasphemous. Just very very silly.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Can I have the epidural after she's done?

A few months from now, I'm going to be a father. 

Sunday, February 28, 2010

How to not survive the 3rd trimester

A couple weeks ago, my wife came to me with a grave expression. "I need your opinion," she said, slapping down a alarmingly thick sheaf of papers. 

It turned out to be a printout of the baby registry - things for other people to buy at the upcoming baby shower. For the next half-hour, a barrage of unfamiliar images and concepts flashed before my eyes -- cribs, carriages, carry-ons, car seats, onesies, twosies, footsies, diaper bags... 

"Is this all really necessary?" I said when she took a breath. "I mean, why do you need a crib?" 

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Twouble with Twitter

Tweet! Tweet! Tweedle-dee-dee!
Have you heard the word, bird? Have you caught the A-Twain? Have you joined the chorus of rockin' robins clustered round the tweetin' tree?

That, right, dear readers! With a rollings of drums, with a fanfare of twumpets, we bring you the blessed new awakening, the latest, greatest innovation of social networking for the young'n'hip folk...

Monday, February 08, 2010

Why Mayonnaise is Evil (and other self-evident truths)

Over the years, I've often been mocked by family and friends for my "finicky" eating habits - their words, not mine. I've borne these slanders for many years with nary a word in my defense - but the days of passive-aggressive sulking are past. It's time to justify myself.

To be honest, I don't see why I should be targeted out as being finicky. My personal Index of Forbidden Foods isn't a multi-volume work, after all - it can fit it into a single index card:

1. Mayonnaise
2. Anything that contains mayonnaise
3. Anything that looks like mayonnaise

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Four simple words

Speaking about bumper I saw one that was kinda confusing. This is what it said:

I voted for Obama

...that's it. No joke - no 'point' - snappy, stupid or otherwise. Just four words. And no period.
Those four words are kind of a tabula rasa, aren't they? Meaningless by themselves, they invite we, the readers, to impregnate them with meaning. Is it a declaration? A confession? A statement?

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Dealing with Mr. Mark Shea.

There's a guy, Mark Shea, who has a blog. He can be best described as a polemical writer - very funny, very witty, and often, very infuriating. Mostly he deals with theology and culture - but occasionally he dips into politics, and this makes me sad.

Why am I mentioning this? Because I've read Mark's blog on and off for almost a decade now, and gotten myself into hot water many times with him (I think I've been banned at least twice...and I use the same name - my name, John Doman - whenever I post). Why, do you ask? Well, usually the scenario goes like this: